Marianas Variety

Last updateSat, 23 Sep 2017 12am

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    Friday, September 22, 2017-7:07:27A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

Editorials 2017-April-21

Same old same old

A LAWMAKER says OPA’s report on CUC is “subjective.” It is anything but.

OPA hits the nail on the head when it concludes, after a long recitation of facts and events, that CUC boards, lawmakers and governors have intervened in ways that hamper utility operations, affecting personnel, financial and operational decisions over a very long period of time.

Since 2005, OPA said, administrations have issued emergency declarations citing CUC’s financial woes while permitting the executive branch to direct CUC operations with no direct responsibility for its failures.

Since the economy tanked in 1998, one administration after the other failed to pay CUC for the government’s power usage while CUC remained, and still is, beholden to the administration for position appointments, procurements and virtually every important decision before CUC.

The OPA report mentions the amendments made to the CUC enabling legislation, and how the Legislature has limited CUC’s ability to set rates that reflect actual production costs while failing to appropriate adequate funds to fully pay the government’s utility bill.

Through the years, moreover, administrations and senators have approved nominees to the CUC board regardless of their qualifications or lack thereof as long as they are political supporters.

Then and now, board members have usurped management’s role while suffering no consequences for the dire results of their mismanagement which include delayed or questionable procurements and inefficient or poor services.

As the OPA report has pointed out, CUC is notorious for approving multi-million-dollar procurements in contravention of the law, and this activity continues as evidenced by the power generator that was supposed to be purchased from GPSM which now joins the CUC Hall of Shame that includes Mitsubishi, Marubeni, Rydlyme and Saipan Development LLC.

Oops, they did it again

THE CUC board’s response to its latest self-generated controversy is to cancel an emergency declaration within an emergency declaration, which does not fix the problem. Moreover, based on the CUC board chairwoman’s statement that accompanied the notice of cancellation, there is no regret over any of the actions taken by the CUC board. Instead, the public got a list of reasons why the emergency declaration should stand, and a list of generators that need to be repaired or replaced.

Based on the public record to date, there appears to be malfeasance in the proposed purchase of this $11 million power generator, and this should not be swept away as seems to be the current inclination of the administration and the Legislature.

The Office of the Attorney General has yet another issue to investigate fully and pursue to the greatest extent of the law — or risk losing credibility in the eyes of the public.

Until next time

FOR their part, lawmakers should get a certified revenue figure from the Department of Finance and appropriate funding to pay for the government’s power use. They should also challenge the next emergency declaration sent over by the governor.

As long as the Legislature turns a blind eye to CUC’s systemic problems, those problems will continue to fester and, soon enough, the next CUC scandal will hit the fan. It always does.